It looks like the Golden State Warriors have hit their stride without Kevin Durant, having won nine in a row and dispatching the Spurs and Rockets in back-to-back games.
After an initial rough patch following Durant’s knee injury – going 2-5 after losing the four-time scoring champ – Golden State has opened up a little breathing room in the race for the best record in the NBA, leading the Spurs by 3 ½ games.
“I gotta be honest this is really interesting to me. And I didn’t see this coming. Golden State has won nine straight without Kevin Durant. And ... they’re not playing the Sixers, the Lakers, the Suns. The last two have been at the Rockets and at the Spurs. They’re now 12-4 without him, and everybody would expect for about a week – you gotta get your chemistry right, distribution of shots and your defensive alignments. Defensively, the Warriors are seven points better a game without Kevin Durant. They have shut down [Russell] Westbrook, [James] Harden and Kawhi [Leonard] without Kevin Durant. What?”
More of the same
"One of the things when KD came to Golden State is that they just added more of what they did – another really good shooter. And if you look at the all-time great teams they tended to be like my first argument, fairly layered.
"The Bulls were great defensively. They had guys who were great in the midrange game – Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen. They had long-range shooters – [Steve] Kerr and [John] Paxson. They had tremendous rebounders in the late Bison Dele, Horace Grant or Dennis Rodman. And they always had a big who could score, though they didn’t depend on it. KD to Golden State was just more 3s. He didn’t make them stronger or tougher."
Warriors are surging
"They’re now on a nine-game winning streak on the road against some of the best teams in the NBA. Last night they fell behind 23-3 and won in a rout in San Antonio. They have beaten the two, three and seven Western seeds with no KD, and they are significantly better defensively.
"So when you look at great teams – never forget this – they are layered. They do several things well. When the Warriors last year lost Andrew Bogut and had a 3-1 lead, they lost a rim protector and people kind of rolled their eyes at Andrew Bogut. They were never the same.
"When we build Olympic teams, you can’t just have 12 shooters. Who’s gonna be the glue guy? That’s what I said about Draymond Green. Draymond Green is a really valuable piece here – a little nutty, a little kooky – but at this nightclub, he’s the bouncer, he’s the tough guy and you’ve gotta have one of those."
'It’s Steph’s symphony again'
"I have no problem acknowledging if you would have asked me how they would have done without KD I would have said, ‘They will not be the same team’ and I was right they’re not. They look like they’re better.
"KD added a layer that they were already filled to the brim with. And it looks like without him they’re chemistry is better than it’s been the entire year. It is one less superstar doing what they already do really well. Have you noticed Steph Curry’s game in the last two weeks? It’s Steph’s symphony again."
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